Making Work More Natural Than Play

By: Glenda G. Lofton, Ph.D

Jun 18, 2019


As a young child, I spent most of my summers and holidays at the home of my Great Grandfather Warner in Winn Parish.  It was the home he had built on land homesteaded by his family in the 1800’s. When Grandpa died in 1955 at the age of 95, it remained much the same as it had been almost 100 years before – with no electricity, running water, or indoor toilets.  According to Grandpa that “newfangled electricity” might burn your house down.   Referred to now as the “dog trot” style, the house featured a long open hall with rooms on each side allowing dogs and breezes to travel through. (A smaller replica of the house can be seen at the LSU Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge.  I still get a lump in my throat when I visit there.)   Separated from the main house to prevent fires from the wood-burning stove was my favorite room, the kitchen.  It was there my Great Aunt Mary Lou, who did most of the cooking and cleaning, taught me the joy and wonder of work.  (When Grandpa Warner was paralyzed in a wagon accident years before, Mary Lou and her brother, Ira, abandoned their personal plans in order to take care of their dad and the farm, but I never heard either of them complain.) Together Mary Lou and I would gather the eggs, bring in meat from the smokehouse where it was stored and preserved, pick and shell fresh butterbeans from the garden, and churn the milk, milked from cows the night before, into butter.  However, there was one job I was not allowed to do because it was “too dangerous” – wash the dishes.  Dishes were washed in a pan of water on the very hot wood burning stove using homemade soap.  Mary Lou made it look like an art form as she washed and rinsed from the kettle of boiling water, and I dreamed of the day when I would be big enough to wash dishes all by myself.  (I still love to wash dishes, but Tommy wishes I would have been as fascinated by the cooking.)                

Although my family instilled in me a strong work ethic, and I was diligent in doing my schoolwork, when I met Tommy on my first day at LSU, I had never held a “real” job.  Tommy, who had worked continually since he began delivering papers at the age of 11 and was working his way through college, could not believe it.  In retrospect, I should have anticipated that he would one day begin a staffing service, because from the beginning he was determined to put me to work!  When Christmas break came at LSU, Tommy got me a job as a retail clerk at J.C. Penney’s where he was working at the time.  I gained a new respect for my mother, who had taken a similar position at a retail store to help pay my way through college, and for all the people who stood on their feet for an eight-hour work day.  When classes resumed at LSU, he happily assisted me in getting a job as a student worker in the Veterinary Science Department, where I worked until I graduated.  

Then and now, Tommy believed that work was more natural than play.  It is one of the underlying beliefs on which Lofton Staffing Services was founded.  His goal was to create a workplace where people could have fun…and be better, where people have fair pay, fair treatment, and opportunities to learn, where interests and talents are matched to the task, where people treat others the way they want to be treated, where problems are viewed as possibilities, where people believe that we’re all called to serve and know that when they help others they have helped themselves, where people learn to love Mondays, and where they feel better when they leave than when they came.  Having fun is not slacking off.  It’s doing what we do for the joy of it!  

Because Tommy’s beliefs are supported by the research on productive organizations, I was not surprised to discover while reading an autobiography of Albert Einstein that Tommy’s view of work is somewhat supported by one of Einstein’s equations.  According to Einstein, “If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y plus Z.  X is work. Y is play. Z is keeping your mouth shut.”  Unfortunately in many of the environments where Einstein worked and in many workplaces today, Z is a necessity. When I showed Tommy the equation he added passionately, “Work is as natural as play – unless we take the joy out of it.”  

Recently two other quotes about work drew my attention.  In the first, Sam Ewing states, “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” The second quote from an unknown source views hard work from a slightly different perspective.  “Most people like hard work” the writer contends, “especially when they’re paying for it.”

What does your work say about your character? Is work for you more natural than play?  Who influenced your view of work?  What are you doing to help yourself and others have fun and get the job done? Ultimately the way we view work and how we behave is a choice.  Sometimes, as Tommy reminds us, “We have to work at having fun.  If we don’t feel it, fake it.”  When we change the way we think, we can change the way we act.  

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Celebrating 40 years in staffing excellence! Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.